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Red, Black, & Blue
(The best of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship)

Red, Black, & Blue on iN DEMAND

The National Wrestling Alliance World heavyweight championship was the oldest and most prestigious version of the World title. Promoters from around the country formed the NWA in the mid-1940s and recognized Orville Brown as its first champion in 1948. While Brown was the first champion, the lineage can be loosely traced to Frank Gotch and the turn of the century.

The NWA title was the last title to be recognized as the near undisputed World heavyweight championship in the 1950s. The AWA World heavyweight championship in the late 1950s and the the WWWF (today's WWE) heavyweight championship in the early 1960s both arose off claims of the NWA title. 

In the 50s through the early 90s it was the most widely recognized around the World heavyweight championship. It was defended everywhere except the Northeast and Midwest of the United States. The champion put the belt on the line throughout the rest of North America and Asia.

Here are some of the most historic matches in the history of the NWA World heavyweight championship.

Bullies, Babes, & Brawn Complete Lineup
(Click link for more match information)

Pat O'Connor vs Nature Boy Buddy Rogers

Lou Thesz vs Argentina Rocca

"Big Thunder" Gene Kiniski vs Dory Funk Jr.

Jack Brisco vs Giant Baba

Jack Brisco vs Terry Funk

Terry Funk vs Harley Race

Harley Race vs Dusty Rhodes

Show times


 

Pat O'Connor (left) and Nature Boy Buddy Rogers set attendance and box office records that stood for decades with their June 30, 1961 NWA World heavyweight championship match. Defending champion O'Connor is  shown with the title belt.

NWA World Heavyweight Championship
 
Pat O'Connor
(Defending
National Wrestling Alliance World heavyweight champion)
vs
Nature Boy Buddy Rogers
(Challeng
ing United States heavyweight champion)

One of the candidates for Match of the Century was the June 30, 1961 showdown for the NWA title that drew 38,622 in Chicago's Comiskey Park, which set an all-time attendance record that stood for 20 years. The gate of $96,302 also set a record that held up for decades.

Nature Boy Buddy Rogers was the controversial top box office draw that was wrestling's most colorful attraction of the era. He may have been wrestling's first "cool" villain with his finely tuned tanned physique, bleached blond hair, and arrogant strut. His look and style was the forerunner to another "Nature Boy", Ric Flair. He was also considered one of the most exciting wrestlers of the era and innovated many moves and bumps that are considered standard today. He was the biggest star of the nationally televised wrestling cards out of Chicago.

Rogers held the second most important belt in wrestling, the United States heavyweight championship.

The only feat that Rogers had not accomplished as a wrestler was to win the sport's top honor, the NWA World heavyweight championship.

Pat O'Connor had successfully defended the title for two years since winning the belt from Dick Hutton. The New Zealand native drew well as champion and was considered on of the most popular wrestlers in the World.

O'Connor was a brilliant technical wrestler. He was a top mat wrestler and could also incorporate aerial moves like flying dropkicks and flying head scissors.  

The match itself lived up to the hype.

Their historic showdown is considered on of the greatest matches of all time. 


Lou Thesz (left) and Argentina Rocca were two of the top stars of the 50s with wildly different styles. Their rivalry outside the ring were almost as legendary as their matches.

NWA World Heavyweight Championship
 
Lou Thesz
(Defending
National Wrestling Alliance World heavyweight champion)
vs
Antonino (Argentina) Rocca
(
Challenger)

It was the ultimate contrast of styles.

About the only thing that Lou Thesz and Antonino (Argentina) Rocca had in common was that they though both laid claim to being the top wrestler of the 50s.

Thesz held the NWA World heavyweight championship for a record span between 1948 and 1956. He was the consummate wrestler who took his sport and his wrestling seriously. He took offense to performers who he considered gimmicks who could not wrestle.

Rocca was the consummate gimmick. He was the first wrestler to ever incorporate flashy aerial moves into his matches like series of dropkicks, slapping opponents with his bare feet, mid-air splits, squirming on the mat like a fish, and more.

Thesz was open in his criticism of Rocca.

Rocca countered with a claim of being the biggest box office draw of his era. He was the star that Northeast promoters built the big arenas around and Rocca started the legacy of Madison Square Garden with many sellouts.

The two get an opportunity to settle their differences in a showdown for Thesz' NWA World heavyweight championship.


Gene Kiniski (left) was one of the most physically dominant NWA World heavyweight champions ever. He defends against 27-year-old Dory Funk Jr.

NWA World Heavyweight Championship
 
"Big Thunder" Gene Kiniski
(Defending National Wrestling Alliance World heavyweight champion)
vs
Dory Funk Jr.

(Challenger)

The 275-pound Gene Kiniski was one of the most physically dominant wrestlers of his time. He was a superstar in the Canadian Football League before he brought his power to professional wrestling. He was appropriately nicknamed "Big Thunder."

Even though he had the reputation for being a power wrestler and somewhat of a brawler, Kiniski was a good college wrestler and was a student of technical wrestling, which he learned from facing such stars as Lou Thesz, Pat O'Connor, and Verne Gagne

The zenith of Kiniski's career came when he knocked off Lou Thesz for the NWA World heavyweight championship in St. Louis. Kiniski came into this match after dominating the title for three years and turning back all challengers.

Dory Funk Jr. came into the match a huge underdog. He was only 27 years old. He was already well known in Texas and was starting to make a reputation of himself in St. Louis. The common thinking was that Dory had the potential to be champion but was a couple of years of experience and seasoning away from being in Kiniski's class.

Few people in Tampa thought they were about to see history being made. 


 

The program from the historic night in Kagoshima, Japan where Giant Baba (left) put his PWF championship up against Jack Brisco's NWA World heavyweight championship.

Title versus Title Match
 
Jack Brisco
(Defending National Wrestling Alliance World heavyweight champion)
vs
Shohei "Giant" Baba

(
Defending Pacific Wrestling Federation heavyweight champion
)

Living up to the standards of being a fighting champion was important to Jack Brisco. Brisco's childhood idol was Lou Thesz and Thesz literally traveled the world to make sure every deserving challenger got a shot. Brisco promised himself that if he won the belt, he would honor the standards that Thesz set. 

With that thought in mind, Brisco traveled halfway around the World to face his biggest challenge ever - literally.

Waiting for Brisco was the 7-foot Japanese national hero, Shohei "Giant" Baba.

Many Japanese stars had come close to winning the World title. The father of modern Japanese wrestling, Rikidozan, became a legend when he won the International title from Lou Thesz. But no wrestler had ever captured a major version of the World title. Baba himself had come close in the past only to see the belt slip out of his grasp.

Could this night in Kog

It's a historic night in the history of both Japanese wrestling and the history of the NWA World heavyweight championship.

Jack Brisco adds commentary to his event that made history for both Japanese wrestling and the NWA World heavyweight championship.


Jack Brisco (left) continues his feud with the Funk brothers when he defends the NWA World heavyweight title against Terry Funk.

NWA World Heavyweight Championship
 
Jack Brisco
(Defending National Wrestling Alliance World heavyweight champion)
vs
Terry Funk

(Challenger)

The greatest feud of the 70s was the Funk brothers versus the Brisco brothers. And it was usually fought for the biggest stakes in the sport.

It started when Dory Funk Jr. was the NWA World heavyweight champion and Jack Brisco was the leading contender. Their title matches were the hottest draw in wrestling. The majority of the matches ended in a draw, with most of those going at least 60 minutes. 

Brisco has never gotten over the fact that Dory dropped the title to Harley Race before Jack could beat Dory. Jack went on to take the belt eight weeks later in his first shot at Race.

The changing of the guard also brought Dory's younger brother, Terry Funk, into the title picture. Terry never challenged his brother for the belt, but he spent the nearly a decade putting up one of the best resumes in wrestling.

Jack Brisco went to Miami scheduled to give Dory another title shot. But due to travel complications, Dory didn't make it to the building. Terry was called in as a substitute to take the title shot.

Gordon Solie calls Terry's attempt to become the second half of the only brother combination to hold the NWA World heavyweight championship.


Terry Funk (left) tries to break the jinx Harley Race had against the Funks when he travels to Toronto to defend the NWA World heavyweight championship.

NWA World Heavyweight Championship
 
Terry Funk
(Defending National Wrestling Alliance World heavyweight champion)
vs
Harley Race

(Challenger)

With the possible exception of the Brisco brothers, no wrestler gave the Funk brothers more problems than Harley Race.

Dating back to the 60s and early 70s, the feud between the Funks and Race has been intense and violent. Terry Funk claims that he cost Race partial vision in his eye in a brutal chain match. Race ended Dory Funk's 4-1/2 year NWA World title reign. 

Terry was perhaps the wildest champion to ever hold the NWA World heavyweight championship. He was one of the pioneers of "hardcore" wrestling and brought the out of control elements to his title matches. Funk turned back all challengers in the United States, Canada, and Japan for over year heading into this match.

Race's was looking not only for the title, but for vindication. He had won the title three years earlier, but only held the belt for eight weeks. He was embarrassed by having, at the time, the third shortest title reign in history. He had several challenges against Jack Brisco and Terry Funk, but had been unable to regain the belt. The word "fluke" was being whispered behind his back.

Terry Funk comes into this match to defend his World title and avenge his family's honor. Race comes into the match looking for vindication.

Former NWA World heavyweight champion Whipper Billy Watson and NWA President Sam Muchnick call the action.


 

Terry Funk (left) tries to break the jinx Harley Race had against the Funks when he travels to Toronto to defend the NWA World heavyweight championship.

NWA World Heavyweight Championship
 
Harley Race
(Defending National Wrestling Alliance World heavyweight champion)
vs
"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes

(Challenger)

This is the final showdown between arguably the two greatest stars of their era. Harley Race won the NWA World heavyweight championship for a second time in 1977 and dominated the title for five years. He comes into this match having tied the record for most times winning wrestling most prestigious belt with his sixth victory.

While Harley Race dominated the title, Dusty Rhodes dominated the box office. The charismatic America Dream was the most popular star in wrestling. He had previously beaten Race for the belt in Florida only to be a stung a week later when Race won it back in a rematch.

Both came into this battle with something to prove. Race wanted to show he was the dominant wrestler in the sport. Dusty needed the belt to solidify his claim that he was the sportís biggest star.

This night in Atlantaís historic Omni will live forever. 


Red, Black, & Blue
(NWA World Heavyweight Championship)
Show times
(All times EST)

Day Date Time
Tuesday July 6 2 p.m.
Saturday July 10 7 p.m.
Monday July 12 1:30 p.m.
Monday July 12 9 p.m.
Tuesday July 13 4:30 p.m.
Friday July 16 12:30 p.m.
Friday July 16 6:30 p.m.
Monday July 19 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday July 20 8 p.m.
Wednesday July 21 3:30 a.m.
Saturday July 24 5 p.m.
Monday July 26 8 p.m.
Wednesday July 28 1 p.m.
Thursday July 29 3 a.m.
Thursday July 29 6:30 a.m.
Friday July 30 3 p.m.

Red, Black, & Blue on iN DEMAND


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